Fans of David Webb would never balk at referring to the late American jeweler’s work as art, nor would they quibble over the importance animals played in his designs. The North Carolina-born designer, who passed away in 1975 at the age of 50, created a whimsical, award-winning menagerie for his namesake house. And for the first time ever, the American jeweler is hosting an in-house exhibit to showcase Webb’s creature creations.
The heritage brand will host A Walk in the Woods: David Webb’s Artful Animals at its Madison Avenue flagship on Sept. 19. On display will be pieces from the David Webb Museum Collection, designs pulled from the archives, and two brand new owl jewels—a very au courant motif—based on archival sketches. The ticketed, by-appointment-only exhibit, which is open through October 2, will showcase over 40 jewels and objets in tandem with curated archival materials and immersive multimedia.
“In the David Webb archive, we have a vast array of stories we could have chosen to tell, but we thought that an untold story based on the jeweler’s iconic animal jewelry would be super representative of what makes the brand so exciting,” Levi Higgs, head of archives and brand heritage for David Webb, tells The Zing Report. He hopes that viewers will come away with a “deeper knowledge and understanding of the stories surrounding the pillars of each animal we chose to feature in the exhibition.”
The immersive multimedia portion of the show also draws on the brand’s rich history. David Webb received the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics Award for his groundbreaking animals in 1964. At that time, the committee displayed a film by fashion photographer Milton Greene and illustrator Joe Eula called A Walk in the Woods. The new exhibition will debut a reimagining of Eula and Greene’s film by multimedia artist Noah Kalina, set to music by cellist Patrick Belaga. “I hope visitors will also leave with a renewed joy in nature after seeing our jewelry films!” Higgs adds.
Can’t make the exhibit? There are several other place to cast eyes on Webb’s fantastic creatures: the designer’s jewelry is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—which houses a zebra bracelet in its permanent collection that was also prominently featured in the museum’s Jewelry for America exhibit—is in the permanent collections of Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, The Museum of Arts and Design, the Newark Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. —Roxanne Robinson
Top: David Webb panther (All photos courtesy of David Webb)